This weekend, the Super Bowl and all the events surrounding it will provide a feast for the eyes of fans.
But hearing the fun is just as important. And Friday night, that’s what a charity event in Jefferson was all about.
The Big Easy Sportsplex hosted the event that included coaching for football and cheerleading.
But in one of the back rooms of the expansive building, kids worked to improve a more important ability — their hearing.
The Starkey Foundation is in town from Minnesota to fit and distribute free hearing aids for kids who need them.
“The Starkey Foundation gave us an opportunity to have the latest and greatest hearing aids, and we’re very grateful,” said Leslie Kemmerer, the mother of nine-year-old daughter Hannah.
Kemmerer says insurance deductibles and restrictions often prevent children with hearing problems from getting the latest technology available in hearing aids. It’s a lot like cell phone contracts that often require people to keep their phone long after newer, better ones hit the market.
The event at the complex covered a few activities including a silent auction to help fund sports programs for kids.
New Orleans Saints players Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, and Curtis Lofton coached the young football players and encouraged the kids who received new hearing aids.
“There was a girl. She had a smile from ear to ear. It was awesome seeing that,” Lofton said while signing autographs for other kids who were anxious to meet him.
Country singer Garth Brooks also made an appearance and spoke with kids and their parents.
Each set of hearing aids retails for about $7,000. The Starkey Foundation planned to distribute more than 130 of them.
Perhaps the biggest celebrity to make an impression on the kids was actor and body builder Lou Ferrigno who has worn a hearing aid since he was a little boy.
Ferrigno encouraged the kids and sat for an ear exam in front of all of them. Ferrigno is perhaps best known for his role in the TV series The Incredible Hulk. He says he wishes the Starkey Foundation were around when he was a child.
“I would’ve given anything to have a hearing aid given to me or be associated with this company. Back then, it was almost like freakish to have a hearing aid.”